Throughout the last year, finding a good arcade bar was not exactly top of mind during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, more recently, I was glad to have found EinStein's Pub & Arcade at 16733 W. Airport Blvd. #290 in Richmond, where I had the opportunity to take on classic games like Pac-Man, NBA GameTime, and Mario Kart.
Bring cash to change out your bills into quarters, and settle in for a night of retro gaming. While I was in the midst of an older crowd during my visit last Friday night, you can bring your kids to play at the arcade until 9 p.m.
I ordered some tacos and enjoyed a peach mango margarita before I made my way over to the arcade, as people began to fill up the seats around the bar. Several couples were already busy playing pinball, foosball or air hockey, and another guy was in the zone, absolutely crushing the StepManiaX dancing video game. It seemed like there was a healthy amount of nostalgic appeal to the games at EinStein’s.
I began my gaming session at the NBA GameTime station, where I spent several rounds clanking shots off of the rim until I successfully managed to shake off the rust and clear the 50-point threshold in 45 seconds and recorded a high score of 66 with the 12-second bonus round.
The rim does move slightly from side to side, but not as much as I’ve seen at some outdoor basketball carnival games.
My next adventure at the Star Wars pinball machine was short-lived, as the novelty of the sound effects from the iconic movies and the voice of Yoda bellowing “do or do not, there is no try” wore off rather quickly.
I shifted over just a few feet to set up shop at the Pac-Man game. There was something strangely soothing and cathartic about devouring coins and ghosts and playing a timeless classic that requires almost no preparation or insider knowledge.
Next, I decided to give Golden Tee Golf a spin. The virtual golf game was the only $1 game I played, the rest were all either 25 or 50 cents each. I played nine holes of closest-to-the-pin, and once I got the hang of my backswing, managed to land on the green on the final two holes. Unlike in real golf, I’m glad I don’t have to find the balls I lost in the rough.
Because I always like to end on a high note, I went with a childhood favorite, Mario Kart, to wrap things up. This was the first time I had played an arcade version of the legendary Nintendo game, and for me, playing with a steering wheel and pedals was definitely preferable to a controller.
I have always liked playing as the Luigi character, but you can choose from any of your Nintendo favorites. You can also race against your friends, or go solo. I won four of the five races I played in, leveling up in difficulty and choosing a new driving course each time.
And in a parallel to the theme from last week of rediscovering one’s childhood, it left me with a good feeling to see others getting lost in the thrill of their favorite games and paying homage to a more carefree, innocent period of their lives.